1. Isolate keywords from your topic.
2. Narrow your search results to include all of your keywords using AND.
"United States" AND cultural competence AND health care
3. Expand your search using OR to find like terms.
"United States" AND "cultural competence" AND ("health care" OR healthcare)
Combining search terms with AND:
A search for "United States" yields 314,000 results results
A search for cultural competence yields 1,700 results
A search for cultural competence AND "United States" yields 429 results
Combining search terms with OR:
A search for "health care" yields 263,000 results
A search for healthcare yields 170,000 results
A search for "health care" OR healthcare yields 317,000 results
A search for caregiver yields 13,300 results
A search for caregiver NOT family yields 6,700 results
Use Quotation Marks to:
This shows the search engine that you want the terms to be found together. The search will look for exactly what you place in the quotation marks, so be sure there are no mistakes.
A search for United States yields over 500,000 results
A search for "United States" yields about 300,000 results
Use Truncation to:
Search engines match your exact terms to results; they will not automatically find an alternate version of it. Truncation tells the search to match the root of your term and gives it freedom to find whatever endings it can.
A search for cultural yields 36,000 results
A search for cultur* yields over 95,000 results
1. denoting a system of algebraic notation used to represent logical propositions, especially in computing and electronics.
What does that mean for you?
If you are having a hard time finding what you need, use the Boolean Operators outlined here to more efficiently search databases.
No matter where you are searching - the catalog, Google Scholar, a database you will want to use Boolearn Operators to refine your search to your specifications.
We are indebted to the Butler University Library's And/Or/Not box and to the Sarah Lawrence Create a Search Using Commands box for some of the content displayed here.
Natural language words that describe your topic
Pre-defined "controlled vocabulary" that describe what an item is about
More flexible search - looks for anywhere the words appear in the record
Less flexible search - only the subject fields will be searched
Broader search, but may yield irrelevant results
Targeted search; results are usually more relevant to the topic, but may miss some variations
Keyword searching is how we normally start a search. Pull out important words or phrases from your topic.
Subject Terms and/or Headings are pre-defined terms that are used to describe the content of an item. These terms are a controlled vocabulary and function similarly to hashtags on social media.
We are indebted to the MIT What are subject headings and keywords? box and Sarah Lawrence Finding Resources Guide for some concepts displayed here.
In the Catalog, subject headings are displayed under "Description" in the record of an item. Click on the arrow to the left of "Description" and then scroll down to the section called "Subjects."
In the Databases, subject headings may be listed as Descriptors, Subjects and/or Subject Headings and are typically located in the Abstract and/or Details of an article.
There will also be subject headings for specific types of therapies, examples include:
Quick Tip: In PubMed Subject Headings are known as Medical Subject Headings (MeSH). Need more help with this? See our:
Not sure how to gain access to the Full Text of an item? See our Finding Full Text Guide for more information (including step-by-step instructions for our catalog and databases like PubMed & CINAHL).